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12 Bad Leadership Qualities to Be Aware of

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12 Bad Leadership Qualities to Be Aware of

Have you ever heard of the “Peter Principle”? It’s the idea that in any business people get promoted based on their success at the job they’re currently in. This advancement only stops when they reach a level where they don’t excel anymore. They have gone beyond the place where they were competent, thus getting stuck at their level of incompetence.

This principle is based on the notion that success in one area does not necessarily correspond to success in other areas. This is how bad leaders are made, getting promoted to a position they just aren’t qualified for.

For example, just because someone is a good salesperson doesn’t mean that they can lead a sales team.

Take a minute to think about the best boss you’ve had and compare that to the worst boss you’ve had. Can you remember what it felt like to work for each? You can likely remember the feeling of working for each clearly. But can you identify the qualities that made the leader good or bad?

It’s important to be aware of bad leadership qualities when you see them as this will help you define your relationship with your own boss and improve your personal leadership qualities.

12 Bad Leadership Qualities

These are 12 bad leadership qualities to be aware of.

1. Conflict Avoidance

Whether it’s between department heads or team members, dealing directly and decisively with conflict is essential. By not dealing with it or just hoping that it will go away, a bad leader is just letting the situation fester. They will still have to deal with it, but by the time they do it will have morphed from a small conflict into a serious situation.

Good leaders know that they can’t make everyone happy and that making these hard decisions is in their job description.

2. Lack of Flexibility

Long gone are the days when you could adopt one management style for your whole career. Good leaders know when and how to adapt their management style. They also know their team members and understand how to motivate them individually. In today’s world, nothing says bad leadership more than an unwavering authoritarian boss.

3. My-Way-or-the-Highway Mindset

People like to think that they came into their leadership position due to their knowledge and expertise. While that may be true, it can lead to arrogance and inflexibility. Part of being a leader is inspiring the team to greater things. Unless they have the autonomy to work out problems on their own and, yes, even make mistakes, they won’t stay motivated.

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4. Rationalizing Poor or Unethical Conduct

It doesn’t matter how smart or talented a leader is; if they rationalize bad behavior from themselves or others, they are doomed to failure. It’s an easy thing to fall into, but rationalizing unethical business practices because of some short-term gain always catches up with them.

5. Lack of a Track Record

Success breeds success. While past performance isn’t a guarantee of future success, the fact is that hiring someone who has a proven track record of success is less risky than hiring someone who doesn’t.

6. Inability to Create or Conform to a Company Culture

Creating the right company culture serves to empower and uplift teams. It has company-wide implications, and if not embraced and utilized by the leader, there will be a negative effect on ROI.[1]

7. Poor Communication Skills

Leaders need to be able to effectively communicate in a variety of ways and with a variety of people. A person with poor communication skills cannot effectively share the company’s goals, mission or strategy to achieve them. Being able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, is a must for any leader.

8. Self-Centered

Besides being miserable to be around, self-centered people make poor leaders. If a leader is self-centered, they will take credit for the successes and place blame for the failures. Eventually this leads to staff becoming demoralized and the business failing.

The Rotary Club has a saying: Service Above Self, coined by Rotarian Arthur Frederick Sheldon. This means that “only the science of right conduct toward others pays. Business is the science of human services. He profits most who serves his fellows best.”[2]

9. Unpredictability

This can take many forms. A team needs to be able to predict what the boss wants in order to have any kind of autonomy doing their jobs. Without it, they will be forced into a system of micromanagement. Having to okay every decision for fear of reprisal is a failure of leadership.

Additionally, employees need a sense of stability in order to feel safe. If employees know that the boss’s reaction to bad news is dependent on their mood that day, it can stop the flow of vital information. It also means that they will constantly be walking on eggshells around that boss.

Finally, people who say or do things without thinking first make very poor leaders. The bottom line is that sending mixed signals is one of the bad leadership qualities that will doom a business to failure.

10. Not Forward-Thinking

Being satisfied with the status quo is never a good thing for a leader. It signifies that they are more concerned about surviving than growing and thriving. Good leaders are forward-thinking and keep their businesses at “the tip of the spear” of change and innovation.

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11. Know-It-All

Good leaders know just how much they don’t know. They have no desire to be right or even be the smartest person in the room. Good leaders know who and when to ask for advice.

Know-it-alls, on the other hand, rarely take advice or even input from anyone other than a superior. They do not take advantage of the huge amount knowledge and talent that’s available to them.

12. Not Focused on the Customer

A leader must be focused on the customer. They need to know exactly who they are serving, what their needs are, and how the company can work to fulfill those needs better than the competition. If the leader in your organization isn’t focusing on the customer, you can be assured that there’s a leader from a competitor that is.

Why People Stay With a Bad Leader

When you have a bad leader, the simple solution is to just quit and find another job, but it’s rarely as simple as that. People stay in stressful and unhealthy relationships all the time; the work relationship is no different. But why do they stay?

There are a myriad of reasons people stay working for a bad leader, but they are mostly tied to basic human psychological dynamics.

Feeling Emotionally Drained

When dealing with a high stress situation day after day, it becomes emotionally draining. They may want to find something else, but they just don’t have the energy to do it. It’s also not a good idea to quit a job without having another job lined up. However, it’s hard to get another job lined up when you’re emotionally exhausted all the time. Stressful work environments can also make it hard to envision more positive situations that may be out there.

Loss Aversion

Not wanting to give up something that you already have is another reason people stay with a bad leader. The thinking goes like this: “He/She is a lousy boss, but this might be the best job I can get.” In psychological terms, it’s a concept called “Loss Aversion.”

Love for the Job

Some people stay because they really love the job even though they hate the boss. The work is highly meaningful to them and gives them a sense of purpose and emotional satisfaction.

Hope of Change

Finally, there’s always that hope that the boss might change their ways. It rarely happens, but there’s still hope.

How to Deal with Bad Leadership

If quitting is not an option, there are some strategies you can use to deal more effectively with a bad leader. While the exact strategy to use depends on the specific bad leadership qualities of your boss, we do have some good general recommendations.

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Identify the Motivation

The first thing you want to do is observe. You want to identify your boss’s triggers and motivations. What is important to them?

Keep in mind that they may not be aware of their own motivations, but if you are observant, you can make reasonable assumptions on the following:

  • Are they worried about how they look to their colleagues or superiors?
  • What (if anything) seems to make them happy?
  • How do they measure success in themselves and others?
  • What do they care about most?
  • What frightens them?

By understanding a leader’s personality, motivations, and triggers, you can frame your interactions accordingly. For example, when presenting an idea to a leader who is a know-it-all, try to give them a way to “share” in the credit.

Instead of saying, “I think we could save money by changing how we do X and instead do Y,” you’d be better off phrasing it this way: “Hey, I’d like to get your opinion. Do you think we could save money on X if we change it to Y?” This will give them an out, and in their mind, they can take (at least partial) credit for the idea, so it is more likely to be implemented.

Don’t Sabotage

It can be tempting to try to “even the score” by working slowly, taking extra days off, or abusing mental health and sick days. However, all that does is make the situation worse. You need to have good working relationships with your coworkers as well as other leaders within the company.

You also don’t want to let it affect your work. Keep the quality of your work high. Unless you have another job lined up, you don’t want to lose this one.

Anticipate

Try to anticipate the leader’s wants, needs, and expectations. By doing this, you can stay one step ahead of them. This is especially helpful if your boss is a micromanager.[3]

Clarify

Good communication skills are a must for any organization. Unfortunately, one of the most common bad leadership qualities is poor communication skills. Instead of relying on a leader with poor communication skills, you need to take control of the situation.

There’s a tried and true method to when trying to get clarity from someone. Simply repeat back to them what they said and have them listen. “Okay, this is what I heard you say. Is that what you meant?”

If it is, you have achieved clarity; if it isn’t, it gives them a chance to explain further.

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This technique works well when you are assigned a new or different task as well as when handling disputes with the boss.

Take Care of Yourself

Poor leadership and bad bosses make for a stressful and exhausting workday. Don’t let it damage your physical or mental health. Do the following to take care of yourself.

Get Plenty of Exercise

One of the best ways to reduce stress is through exercise. It not only reduces stress, but it also keeps you healthy and away from the more harmful ways to reduce stress, like drinking, smoking, and drug use.

Keep a Healthy Diet

A high-stress work environment will take its own toll on your body. Stress is a known factor in both heart disease and stroke. Minimize these risks by maintaining a healthy diet.

Have a Support System

Having someone you can talk to is important any time you are in a stressful situation. Being able to vent and talk with someone always helps. You can bounce ideas off them, and they may give you advice or a perspective you haven’t considered.

Get Enough Sleep

The connection between quality sleep and heart health has been well established for some time now. However, our understanding of the interaction or cause and effect has evolved over time. It is now believed that poor quality sleep contributes to things like coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.[4]

Conclusion

In an ideal world, we would all have good, competent leaders and managers, ones who uplifted us, helped us succeed, and made us feel valued. However, studies have shown that “75% of Americans say their boss is the most stressful part of their workday.”[5]

It’s obvious, then, that this is a very common phenomenon and one that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Your best bet is to learn how to deal effectively with bad leadership until either you or they leave. Regardless, always keep in mind that a job is never worth your health or family relationships.

Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

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David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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